DAVE is a thief, and he can nick your bike in less than 20 seconds. He’ll steal it to order and then flog it to someone who can either change its identity and re-sell it, or dismantle it and sell the spares. Either way, you won’t see it again.
If you’ve got a security product, he has the tools to destroy it. He has acquired these skills so he can feed his family, and he’s good at what he does for a living.
Fortunately for us, though, Dave has a conscience and he wants to make up for some of the heartache he has caused to his victims over the years. That’s why he has agreed to this interview. That’s why he has agreed to share some of his trade secrets. Listen to Dave, because his advice could help you keep your bike.
" Any decent thief will have a van to use if he needs one, " he says. " They’re ideal for the job because they’re everywhere. No-one bats an eyelid at a white van parked next to a bike.
" That means it’s imperative you chain your bike to something every time you leave it unattended. If it’s in your garage or garden you can fit a decent ground anchor, but if it’s in the street or a car park you have to be more imaginative. "
If your chain is long enough, you can secure it to a lamp-post. If not, you could park on the pavement. You may be told to move it on the grounds that it’s causing an obstruction, but if you’re sensible you should be OK.
Parking it on the road and using a longer chain is less likely to annoy traffic wardens, the blind and women with pushchairs, and getting a chain long enough is easier than you think.
" I don’t know why everybody only uses chains which are made for bikes, " says Dave. " Any disc-cutter will get through any chain in about 45 seconds, so you might as well use a high-security chain from a hardware store. It’s almost as strong as one designed for the job, but it’s much cheaper and you can buy it by the metre. "
Gear like this could be used to bridge the gap between your existing bike chain and the post you want to lock it to.
Another alternative is to use a U-lock to extend your existing chain by locking it to the bike and then securing the lock to the post. But however you do it, make sure you pass the chain or U-lock through either the frame or swingarm bracing and not just through a wheel – unless it’s only the wheel you want to keep. " Most thieves will unbolt a wheel to nick the bike, " says Dave. " Why would he be bothered about leaving a wheel behind? He can get another one. He’s a thief. " If you can’t get a lock through either the frame or swingarm brace, at least make sure it goes around the rear wheel rim, swingarm and drive chain.
By parking under a street light you’ll also benefit from a complementary security light. But if it’s impractical, you’ll have to find something else to chain it to. If someone in your house owns a car, you could lock it to the car’s towing hook – but make sure he knows about it or he could end up taking it to work with him in the morning!
If you don’t live with a driver, you’ll benefit from getting friendly with the neighbours. If there’s another rider on the street you could suggest chaining the two bikes together. If there isn’t, you might find an understanding car owner to help you out. Community-minded Dave reckons it’s a good idea to get to know your neighbours anyway. He says: " Introduce yourself, tell them the bike is yours and make them aware that if they see anyone else tampering with it, it’s probably being stolen. "
Once you’ve found something to chain your bike to, any opportunist thief will look elsewhere. But since Dave can get through any chain with an angle-grinder in less than 45 seconds, you’ll also need another line of defence. " You could have a hundred chains on the bike, but I could still nick it given enough time to work.
" That’s why you need an alarm and immobiliser. If you haven’t got one, get one and in the meantime tape down your horn’s button so it will come on if the bike’s hot-wired. The few seconds it takes for the thief to work out what’s going on may be long enough to drive them away or alert you to what’s going on. But don’t expect neighbours to leap out of bed to help you. If possible, make sure the bike is parked near enough to your house or workplace for you to hear the alarm.
" If I’m in bike kit – which I would be - and an alarm goes off, nobody’s going to bat an eyelid. I’m just a biker who can’t get his bike started. Only the owner would know something’s up. "
As a final line of defence, have the bike fitted with a some sort of foolproof identification, such as SmartWater – MCN’s Product of the Year (Accessories) – or Alpha.Dot. Both work using invisible markings on various parts of the bike which can be used to identify the registration number. A SmartWater or Alpha.Dot sticker may make a thief look elsewhere, but even if it doesn’t it will make your machine easier to identify if it – or part of it – ever gets recovered.
Not all security precautions are as high-tech. The simple act of concealing your bike with an old dust-cover could mean the difference between waking up and going for a ride, and waking up and calling the police.
" I’ve paid people £500 on the nose just for telling me where there’s a particular type of bike that’s nickable, " says Dave. " But a cover could conceal a brand new superbike or a clapped out old wreck, so it’s not worth the risk of finding out. "
If the bike’s in a car park, speak to the owners, find our what security they have, tell them it’s your bike, ask them to keep an eye on it and ask them if you can chain it to a fence, a post or anything which is secure. If you can’t find the car park attendant, just do it anyway.
If you use the car park every day, try pairing up with another rider who uses it and suggest chaining your bikes together. If there’s another car park nearby which you could use as an alternative, park in there every other day to break the routine. Dave says: " If your bike’s on show at the same spot every day you’re asking for trouble. "
If you’re bike’s parked off the street in a garden, you’ll be able to take more steps to secure it. A decent ground anchor will put off any opportunist thief and act as a deterrent to professionals. But it’s not a guarantee. " Obviously, if there are two similar bikes on a street and one of them has a ground anchor, I’ll go for the one that doesn’t, " says Dave. " But I might come back for the other one later. Breaking these things isn’t that hard.
" You’ve got to fit the anchor in a place which makes access to it as awkward as possible for me, such as next to a wall or in a corner. If you’ve got enough room to get your bike into the back garden, fit it there. A concrete path or house wall will make a good surface for fitting a bolt-down one and a cemented one can be installed virtually anywhere. "
When using it, make sure it passes through the frame or swingarm brace rather than a wheel and keep any chains off the ground – it makes a perfect anvil for the likes of Dave. " Think of it like a game, " he said, " because I do. " You need to do whatever you can to make my life difficult. Use more than one chain. Use nylon rope – it might sound daft, but it makes bolt-croppers jam closed. Have a bit of rope or a chain leading from your bike to a kennel, even if you haven’t got a dog. Stick an old video camera in your window and rig up a red light so it looks like it’s on all the time. Ask the old dear over the road to keep an eye on it for you. You need to be innovative.
" A small padlock through one of the links in your chain is one of the easiest steps you can take to cause trouble for a thief. If someone then tries to ride the bike it will force the chain off the sprocket. Have a security light installed and, again, fit an alarm and immobiliser as a second line of defence.
" If you can park in a garage then you’re probably the least at risk from having your bike stolen – but don’t get complacent. I’d be reluctant to break into a garage for something like a CBR600 when I can find loads of them parked in the West End of London. But for something a bit more exclusive I would – and I’d travel to leafy suburbia to do it if I knew it was there.
" Don’t be naive about bike theft, " continued Dave. " A lot of people who do it are in the bike industry. If you’ve got an exclusive and valuable machine, don’t tell a dealer your real address unless you have built up a good relationship. And have spare parts posted to your work address if you use a breaker’s. If you think a courier or another rider is following you home, go round in circles until they give up – trust me, people do it. In fact, alter the route you take home from work as a matter of course. "
Take full advantage of the extra security a garage offers by fitting extra deadlocks to the door, plus an anti-ramming post or garage door stop. You could also fit a garage alarm and a ground anchor.
Replacing the light on the ceiling with a battery-powered portable item means you’ll be able to remove it when you leave the bike – making a thief’s life more difficult. And a baby alarm will tell you instantly if someone is interfering with it. They’re highly sensitive to any noise and even if the thief destroys it, an alarm will go off to warn you.
" I’ve heard about people using baby alarms, but I haven’t come across one yet, " says Dave. " I’m not sure if I’d know one if I saw it. And I’ve got no idea how to get round one... no, you’ve got me. "
You see, thieves can be beaten.